Leave Britney Alone   2008  (6:15)


     One recent day, a paper postcard advertisement for a new anthropological ethnographic documentary film by Rina Sherman crossed my desk.  I followed the printed link and visited Sherman’s promotional web site (D.E.R.) selling this new documentary -- for a cool $225 each to institutions.  And there, as much as I have championed anthropological film theory, I was stunned by the promotional presentation of deeply intimate -- borderline pornographic -- content.  Pornographic?  That’s quite a harsh commentary.  Shouldn’t I pull that punch a bit? 

     I don’t think so; because technological advancement has necessarily changed ethical frameworks -- although maybe not enough -- since this documentary distributor promoted Sherman’s film with the few short bits of prurient video content I have appropriated here in my remix, above. 

     Why would Sherman, DER and others allow this form of display?  Were these film fragments considered to be the best ‘juiciest’ clips for ‘selling’ the product?  Did the documentary contain nothing else but intimate female tribal rites?  Were these clips chosen for their eye-catching appeal alone?  Regardless, this was the content chosen for public display, and this is what I found when I searched for this new ‘ethnographic’ video.  $225 was too rich for my blood.  So I took these short ad-clips and changed them, in order to tell a parallel story...about representation, exploitation and profit.

NOTE:  The sorry reason I have seen so few anthro-ethnographic films to date is exactly this... because access is so restricted and so expensive.

     And so, according to my Cultural Farming project, I decided to appropriate and re-edit these few titillating ‘representational’ trailer clips.  Along with these, I mixed in a growing genre of on-line “Caribbean Pornography” to create a deeper provocative contrast, as a means to posit an argument: Do cameras exploit us all, regardless of intent?   But what exactly is the visual point I am trying to make here?  That in the absence of accessibility, viewers are free to pick their false premise: Plump fulsome, explicit porn or tacit, exotic, scholarship porn.  Indeed, there is little difference to me between these kinds of erotic ‘monetizations’. 

     Today, marketing cultural intimacy (ethnography) appears as pruriently profitable as sexual exploitation.  In today’s mediated world all cameras, even our anthropological cameras, can ‘kill’.  Think about that for a minute.  Britney Spears has; and so have her ‘supporters’.  We live in a new visual reality where constant visualization capability borders on voyeuristic perversion.  Indeed, it often crosses that border.  And here, in Sherman’s anthropological film/promotion we find much more than mere salvage.

     Anthropological film has a long, important history: Malinowski, Flaherty (Nanook), Margaret Mead (+) Sol Worth, Jean Rouch, David MacDougall, among so many others.  Indeed, much of the visual field of anthropology has embodied the camera for recording the exotic-other.  But that was then.  Today, it is time to reconsider even anthropological practice in a world of camera-ubiquity, social-intimacy and global visuality.

     In the recent past, ethnographic film has faltered around healthy debates of reflexivity.  When, and how, and how much should the filmmaker rightfully position themselves inside their constructions before crossing into narcissism?  (Rina Sherman, who repeatedly shows herself stalking the elusive ‘best’ camera shot, appears to be a leading protagonist in these promotional clips.)  Today however, an equally large question should trouble visual anthro-socio-cultural studies:  Why must we photograph everything?  When is enough images?  Why must we, whether we are invited to or not, continually record the most precious, private, intimate moments of others?  My deep personal struggle with image “taking” begins here.  So, I have now put my camera away for good... preferring instead to montage existing content into socio-cultural theory instead.  Indeed, cameras must be theorized as guns today... for better and for worse.

     Boundaries between ‘prurient’ anthropology and pornographic explicitness are blurring.  Isn’t there enough female imagery already available for study?  Aren’t there enough ways to ‘record’ other cultures without ‘shooting’ their most intimate moments with cameras and selling it globally for profit?  Must we always stalk for one more ‘exotic’ picture?  At what point exactly does anthropology with its endless hunt for meaningful imagery end and pornographic paparazzi begin?  I don’t know.  I’m trying to find out.

     And... just in case you are still wondering if critical reflexive media production truly matters... or if anthropologic film too often fundamentally mimics corporatizing production techniques : click this...





Date: June 30, 2011 4:48:39 AM MDT




Date: June 30, 2011 9:00:26 AM MDT


Greetings... LabelKantoor(?)

I am unsure why I received this promotional email, or how you acquired my email address.

But now, I offer one (2008) small portion of my seven year critical project to you:

- hw


Holland Wilde

2714 Parkdale Blvd.  NW

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

T2N 3S7

phone -   403.695.0826

email -

project -


Subject: URGENT Copyright infringement in association with hard core pornography of Rina Sherman's films

Date: June 30, 2011 11:03:42 AM MDT



Dear Sir,

I apologize if my email inconvenienced you as it seems it has. I will no longer send you any emails.

I visited the link to your website you supplied in your answer ( and was astounded by your unauthorized and prohibited use of my works under copyright infringes on my exclusive rights as copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.  The reason why this is an infringement: Unauthorized use, Misrepresentation of Rina Sherman and the people filmed through direct association to hard core pornography in the form of a video in which sequences from my film is intercut with hard core pornography images, totally unacceptable derivative work, under the title of "Leave Britney Alone   2008  (6:15)" and with cutlural as opening titles credit on this URL:, on your Website hosted by Dreamhost (IP, located at PMB #257, 417 Associated Rd., Brea, CA 92821, USA, FAX: 714-671-9098 (Dreamhost CEO and abuse service c.c in this email).

The material from my authored works that you listed under the title, Leave Britney Alone, in the video of which you sent me the reference page, is an infringement of my copyright.

In this case, you have used edited sequences from two of my authored works, Keep the Dance Alive (, and, When Visitors Come (, distributed by DER, (c.c. of this email to DER CEO Cynthia Close), which you intercut with hard core pornography images.

Not only are you using images, in the form of low quality reproduction, from my authored works without my authorization but you totally misrepresent my person, my professional identity as well of the identity of the people filmed in the most abject manner.

I hereby demand that all and any public representation of above mentioned material ("Leave Britney Alone   2008  (6:15)" and with cutlural as opening titles credit on this URL: and any other related materials be removed from public display with immediate effect.

I have communicated this matter to my legal council and the case will be pursued if they do not comply with my demand with immediate effect.

This matter needs to be put correct and will undertake whatever steps it will need for it to be done.


Rina Sherman

Subject:  Re: Regarding your DreamHost Abuse message...

Date: June 30, 2011 11:09:34 AM MDT,,,,,


Further to your message, please find hereafter demand for withdrawal of information infringing my copyright, with agravating circumstances due to association of my work with hard core pornography; all details in following message sent o Web site owner hosted by your company:


Subject: From: Holland Wilde - Re: URGENT Copyright infringement in association with hard core pornography of Rina Sherman's films

Date: July 1, 2011 12:01:14 PM MDT,,,,

Rina Sherman.

Greetings to you.

I appreciate your response.  Truly.

Copyright (infringement) should be a most "URGENT" topic to all of us.

And so, allow me to shed some light, and to proffer a few equally urgent facts:

1.  I did not obtain your film and recopy it, nor have I seen your work. 

2.  I appropriated promotional excerpts publicly and freely made available by you.

3.  I claim no copyright or ownership of my derivative, transformative works.

4.  I have renounced all monetization supporting Cultural Farming derivative works.

5.  The work Leave Britney Alone is purposefully rendered "small screen" and unfit for rebroadcast standards.

6.  You make no claim to damages from the construction of Leave Britney Alone.

7.  My work is intended for educational purposes primarily in one-to-one contemplation.

8.  Importantly, Leave Britney Alone falls within guidelines of Fair Use and Fair Dealings law.

9.  There is precedent of a wide body of literature and rich cultural tradition of works similar to Cultural Farming.

10.  Yours is the very FIRST copyright complaint Cultural Farming has ever received... EVER... in seven years of critical media research.

Now, maybe even more importantly:

11.  My work, Leave Britney Alone, was made and uploaded to my educational site 3 years ago.  You did not complain over this period most likely because just today I replied simply to an unsolicited email (junk mail (?) from promoting your video.  Would I have received your complaint today if I had simply deleted your advertisement?  Why exactly do you imagine I would reply to junk mail?

12.  Media, in all its many forms, communicate.  Often our media communicate unintentionally... unexpectedly, in ways that sometimes shock even their makers.  I am aware of documentary, its history, and its controversies.  Moreover, I am keenly aware of the hurt we sometimes feel when we assume our heartfelt works are at times misinterpreted, misconstrued, or extruded into other shapes, forms and meanings.  These are neither legal or ethical grounds of compliant.  My works and claims are equally personal, grounded, heartfelt and intended to educate:   

13.  You have introduced me to an advertisement for only one film, one methodology, one ethnographic story.  Cultural Farming, in contrast, provides hundreds of experimental examples.  In total, Cultural Farming provides a much broader, clearer and more robust insight into its guiding epistemology.  Look around Cultural Farming.  You will soon understand the import, gravity -- maybe even the necessity -- of my brand of critical media education.  No media, particularly that which enters my home unsolicited, is exempt from scrutiny.  Yours came to me not once but twice.

And now that I have your eye/ear Ms. Sherman (if indeed you wrote your email), it would be most constructive to receive replies from you to the various points I am attempting to make in Leave Britney Alone.   I am open to learning.  I am not making, and have not made, any claims to "hard" pornography (whatever that means).  Rather I am claiming that in our rush to produce and monetize our good works, we all sometimes fall into behaviors that uncannily replicate the look and feel of a host of Western late-capitalist methods.  And one very important means of exploring that claim is through earnest and legal appropriation and derivation.  For at bottom, you and I are both attempting to tell stories about others as we see fit.  Every stripe of today's socio-cultural obscene is worthy of investigation.  It is as you correctly claim in your advertisement "part of contemporary expression and thought".  Regardless, I am not demanding you "remove from public display" your manner of ethnographic promotion.

Hopefully you will receive this reply in the open spirit it is intended.  Today is the beginning of a long Canadian national holiday, I will be out of the studio for the next week.  I will gladly resume this conversation then if you choose.  Happy Canada Day, Fourth of July, Bastille Day or wherever it is you currently reside.


- hw


Holland Wilde



Subject:  Re: From: Holland Wilde - URGENT Copyright infringement in assoc

Date: July 2, 2011 2:05:45 PM MDT


Hello -

Please refrain from sending us these messages. We are not interested in your discussion of this matter with Rina Sherman, as this matter is between you and that party.  

Thank you.



5 July 2011: I discovered my site had been hacked (unauthorized entry and breaking) with the below prompt screen.   The video at top of this page had been disabled/deleted, and other links throughout Cultural Farming were broken.   By whom?  Upon what grounds?  With what recourse?   This is, apparently, how some fearfully respond to full democratic engagement.  For this “disabling” is the weakest, most impotent form of educational (ethnographic?) discourse.

I am but one small citizen, but with legal recourse as well.  I have stated my stance clearly and honestly to Rina Sherman, DMCA and others, above.  My comparative work does not defile or damage Rina Sherman or her film.  To think otherwise is to be both part and parcel to the very problem Rina Sherman perceives.   Likewise, “disabling” skirts the most honest questions I have asked Rina Sherman, that is: Why does Rina Sherman, and so many others, promote their good works with poorly contextualized advertising clips, etc.... clips that I have freely and legally appropriated for my video?  “Why, Rina?”  Hacking, disabling or deleting, as a response, may indeed lead us to an answer: Bully Rhetoric?   I made the yellow “Fair Use” place-holder (above) to stand in absence of Leave Britney Alone.


From:  DreamHost Customer Support Team []

Sent:  Tuesday, July 05, 2011 11:19 AM


Subject:  [adakir2 47393420] DMCA Takedown Notice re Britney


We have received a formal DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice

regarding allegedly infringing content hosted on your site. The specific

content in question is as follows:

(re. embedded content at

The party making the complaint (Dr. Rina Sherman, 42, rue Durantin, 75018

Paris, France, Tél. +33145569201, Email:, claims

under penalty of perjury to be or represent the copyright owner of this

content. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512(c), we have removed access to the

content in question (file was renamed and moved to your FTP directory as


If you believe that these works belong to you and that the copyright

ownership claims of this party are false, you may file a DMCA

counter-notification in the form described by the DMCA, asking that the

content in question be reinstated. Unless we receive notice from the

complaining party that a lawsuit has been filed to restrain you from posting

the content, we will reinstate the content in question within

10-14 days after receiving your counter-notification (which will also be

forwarded on to the party making the complaint).

In the meantime, we ask that you do not replace the content in question, or

in any other way distribute it in conjunction with our services.

Please also be advised that copyright violation is strictly against our

Terms and Conditions, and such offenses risk resulting in immediate

disablement of your account should you not cooperate (not to mention the

legal risk to you if they are true).

We also ask that if you are indeed infringing upon the copyright associated

with these works that you delete them from your account immediately, and let

us know once this has been done. We also ask that you delete any other

infringing works not listed in this takedown notification, if they exist.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let us know.



- DreamHost Abuse/Security Team

 - Terms of Service:

 - Anti-Spam Policy:

  1. -Abuse Center:


Dear DreamHost (Internet Service Provider):

This letter is written in response to your notification to me of a complaint received about my web page(s).  The pages in question are: Britney

My response to this complaint is as follows: 

Allegations of Copyright Violation / Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The claims of copyright violation should be rejected because:

My use of the material is legally protected because it falls within the "fair use" provision of the copyright regulations, as defined in 17 USC 107.  If the complainant disagrees that this is fair use, they are free to take up the matter with me directly, in the courts.  You, the ISP, are under no obligation to settle this dispute, or to take any action to restrict my speech at the behest of this complainant.  I declare, under penalty of perjury, that I have a good faith belief that the complaint of copyright violation is based on mistaken information, misidentification of the material in question, or deliberate misreading of the law.

The complaint does not follow the prescribed form for notification of an alleged copyright violation as set forth in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 USC 512(c)(3).  Specifically, the complainant has failed to:      

- Provide a complaint in written form. [17 USC 512(c)(3)(A)]      

- Include a physical or electronic signature of the complainant. [17 USC 512(c)(3)(A)(i)]

-  Include a written statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complainant is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. [17 USC 512(c)(3)(A)(vi)] 

My name, address, and telephone number are as follows:

Holland Wilde

2714 Parkdale Blvd.  NW

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

T2N 3S7

ph: 403-695-0826

I agree to accept service of process from the complainant. 

My actual electronic signature follows:

Having received this counter notification, you are now obligated under 17 USC 512(g)(2)(B) to advise the complainant of this notice, and to restore the material in dispute (or not take the material down in the first place), unless the complainant files suit against me within 10 days.  


And then... this “urgent” copyright infringement demand by RIna Sherman vanished as quickly as it arrived.  And so one month later, on 27 July 2010, I restored this page and the Leave Britney Alone video to its original state, including these additional email exchanges.  Why?  Fair Usage as enacted within Cultural Farming is legal, ethical, intellectual --- and most of all, it is necessary for open cultural examination and discourse.  I’m guessing Sherman and others finally figured this out for themselves.  Then again, maybe not.  Who knows?  But the initial question remains: Should Sherman and D.E.R...and questionable means of production...expose and exploit for profit and fame the humans they study?  My answer is NO, unless there are equal avenues for ethical challenge.


Bottom Line: Jeez, maybe French anthropologists aren’t as cool as I thought they were...